Hyderabad: Warning farmers and seed suppliers from falling prey to substandard and spurious brands, Joint Secretary (Seeds), Government of India, B Rajender on Sunday shot off a letter to the Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority (TSSOCA), asking it to inform stakeholders of the ills of using such seeds.
In the letter, he said, cotton is one of the important commercial crops of Telangana occupying an area of about 20 lakh hectares. Telangana is also one of the major cotton seed producing States in the country. Hence, several seed companies that are producing and supplying seeds of Bt cotton hybrids have sprung up in the State.
The seedsmen association and organisers have represented to the Government of Telangana regarding the disposal of substandard seed lots due to genetic purity failures and also requested a uniform procedure to be followed by the cotton growing country.
Remarks were invited on the problems faced by cotton seed farmers in Gadwal district. Accordingly, the Director, TSSOCA, has proposed to constitute a committee and devise the guidelines on disposal of substandard seeds.
In response to the representation of Gadwal seed growers and proposal of the TSSOCA Director, a committee was constituted to study the issue on disposal of substandard cotton seed lots.
Consequently, two meetings were convened on December 8 and 22 at TSSOCA, Hyderabad, to take the opinions of the concerned stakeholders such as cotton seed growers, organisers and representatives of seedsmen association, seed corporation, seed certification authority and Department of Seed Technology.
The main reasons for Bt cotton hybrid seed production in the State were because of the availability of cheap and skilled manpower, suitable soil, climatic conditions. Approximately, in terms of value, the cotton seed business turnover of the State is Rs 400 crore which includes many domestic seed companies and MNCs.
It is learnt that some of the seed growers/producers are taking up seed production of Bt cotton hybrids seed without proper knowledge of maintenance of genetic purity in Bt cotton and indulging in unfair and unethical means under the pretext of “truthful label” claiming to be their own research bred hybrids.
Hence, such Bt Cotton hybrid seeds have been in circulation in the market through their own marketing and co-marketing systems. As a result, there is every possibility of supply of low-quality standard seed to the market and because of such poor-quality seeds farmers are not getting the desired yield and are incurring heavy losses due to lower productivity, crop failures due to pink bollworm infestation, etc.
Accordingly, the committee after thorough review of opinions of the concerned stakeholders formulated the following rules to regulate the sale of substandard seeds in the market and to prevent the usage of such seeds by the farmers.